The Arab Spring Doesn’t Need Democracy, It Needs Anarchy

 

 

 

Dr. Collins isn’t an anarchist, not by a long shot. But he can take credit for moving me toward anarchy, though he probably wouldn’t want to, if asked.

He’s a brilliant man who reads Homer in Greek and teaches political science at my alma mater: Samford University. The class was The U.S. Constitution and Federalist Papers. I believe it was my Sophomore year. Heretofore, I would have bemoaned that the problem with U.S. government was that there wasn’t enough democracy. We the people know what we want. If only our elected officials would give it to us!

Then I read our delicious founding fathers explain why too much democracy is ruinous. How the great masses always will seek to redistribute wealth. And I knew that was wrong. I’m not sure how I knew, even back then, when I was wrong about so much. But I knew in my heart that stealing was wrong. And that redistribution was a fancy name for stealing.

So it should have come to me much sooner that “democratizing” the middle east was no panacea, despite what Ann Coulter told me.

But it’s all gotten so confused — capitalism, markets and democracy. I didn’t see what was, which was that markets cause peace. When goods cross borders, arms don’t. I only saw what I was told, that the middle east needed voting rights.

And then Fraser Nelson comes in:

But the Arab Spring was a demand for freedom, not necessarily democracy – and the distinction between the two is crucial. Take, for example, the case of Mohammed Bouazizi, who started this chain of events by burning himself alive on a Tunisian street market two years ago. As his family attest, he had no interest in politics. The freedom he wanted was the right to buy and sell, and to build his business without having to pay bribes to the police or fear having his goods confiscated at random. If he was a martyr to anything, it was to capitalism.

Nelson tells of other self immolations, and of the barriers which prevent entrepreneurs in developing nations from engaging in commerce.

As Helen Dale put it for Thoughts on Liberty:

Islam is incompatible with democracy and civil society. This is not to say that individual Muslims cannot immigrate to Western countries with complete success. Rather, it is a ‘state level’ problem. It seems Muslim majority countries cannot create the local conditions that would make immigration to the US and Europe unnecessary.

Islam works okay with democracy. It’s commerce that’s the problem. People want to immigrate not so much because they want political freedom, although they do. But firstly, they want to earn.

Islam is a distraction. For it’s only through states that it has any power. Islam can dissuade people from learning, from earning and from being free. But devoid of coercive state power it can only do so much harm. The problem is in the state. The problem is when you make states democratic which are full of people who are under the influence of Islam. Islam isn’t the problem and democracy sure isn’t the solution. The problem is the state. The only solution is markets. The only path to unfettered markets is anarchy.

7 Comments

  1. Brendan Moore

    “Despite what Ann Coulter told me” – perfect.

    I would add that Islam may be highly conducive to trade, depending on what era, school, and region you’re talking about. Of course, the prohibition on “usury” is pretty sucky, but Christianity had that for a pretty long while anyway, so it’s not necessarily unique to Islam.

      • Brendan Moore

        It’s difficult to talk accurately about “modern Islam,” though, because each country has its own way of practicing Islam. And you’re right on about the influence of oil and other economic factors.

  2. Andrea Castillo

    “Islam is a distraction. For it’s only through states that it has any power. Islam can dissuade people from learning, from earning and from being free. But devoid of coercive state power it can only do so much harm. The problem is in the state. The problem is when you make states democratic which are full of people who are under the influence of Islam. Islam isn’t the problem and democracy sure isn’t the solution. The problem is the state. The only solution is markets. The only path to unfettered markets is anarchy.”

    These thoughts seem to contradict your other statements here: http://sexandthestate.com/im-whatevs-about-mansplaining-but-not-about-culture/

    Particularly: “Culture matters. I want libertarians to honestly engage with the questions of culture and the role it plays in individual choices.”

    Surely, as a considerable cultural force, Islam has an effect on decision-making within these cultures. I’m not sure that some of the negative effects of this culture are limited to the exercise of democracy, as you suggest.

    What’s more, many Islamic societies exhibit clan-based, as opposed to state-based, tendencies. Anarchy, when fitted on the individual-oriented institutions of the West, may lead to liberal outcomes. Clan-based societies, while bereft of “direct” state-like aggression, hide many illiberal tendencies in their norms and social obligations that libertarians may find unacceptable. (http://theumlaut.com/2013/05/14/clans-states-and-individual-liberty/)

    I’m not sure that the answer is so black and white (is it ever?) as saying this has nothing to do with Islam and everything to do with the state. It’s easy to say “markets are the solution,” but harder to develop the low-entropy institutions that support high-entropy market processes.

    • I agree on all those points. It’s definitely not the case, IMO, that Islam isn’t culture or that culture doesn’t matter. I guess my main contention is that democracy is no cure for Islam’s ills.

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